Pluralism Youth Workshop at Organisation internationale de la Francophonie
On October 26-27th, 300 Francophone youth leaders from five continents gathered at the Cité Universitaire Internationale in Paris to participate in the first Conference of Francophone youth of the International Organization of La Francophonie.
This initiative comes after 80 heads of state from Francophonie member countries pledged to promote more active involvement of young people in La Francophonie. The central topic of the event was “Libres ensemble,” translated as “Free Together.”
One of the conference's objectives was to adopt a Youth Declaration to be presented to the Heads of State and Government at the XVI Summit of La Francophonie in Madagascar on November 26th to 27th, 2016. The Declaration advances the belief that youth perspectives must be taken into account by Francophonie decision-makers worldwide.
The Forum explored how education and democracy can nurture active citizens by building their critical and analytical thinking skills. The Forum also sought to identify experimental initiatives occurring at the grassroots level that can be integrated at a broader, systemic level to strengthen democratic societies.
The Centre’s Pluralism Workshop
Two of the Centre’s staff members traveled to Paris for the conference to deliver a workshop to an audience of 25 youth leaders from around the world. The objective of the workshop was to provide these youth leaders with knowledge about pluralism and how to apply it in their community initiatives. Participants had to apply a pluralism lens to a fictional community-based project and share what they learned in the plenary session.
The workshop contributed to changing the global conversation about diversity. Many participants already had some knowledge about diversity and pluralism but pointed out that the workshop helped them to clearly understand the concept and the language to use. This enabled them to better share the information from the workshop with their networks back home.
Participants specifically highlighted the realities of second generation immigrants (in countries like France) and the frustration young people often feel as the children of immigrant parents. This theme has surfaced in recent conferences on the prevention of violent extremism, as well. Second generation youth in developed countries have at times witnessed their parents and families on the receiving end of social exclusion. The frustration can produce resentment among youth and contribute to escalating social tensions.
Participants said that it was refreshing to learn about a positive approach to the challenge of managing diversity. Some participants said they constantly heard about violent extremism, for example, but were not provided with concrete approaches to understand and combat the issue.
When asked what the youth participants had retained from the workshop, the most common answer was that pluralism is more than diversity and tolerance. Rather, it contributes to social stability and peace, it takes time and action, and it is a choice and an evolving process.